It’s time to say good-bye as Shoya, Shoko, and the rest of their friends finally face their longstanding regrets as they step into the next stage of their lives.
Shoya has woken up from his coma resulting from his fall off an apartment balcony in saving Shoko from killing herself. Devastated by Shoya’s injury, his friends have begun working on their aborted movie once again, and Shoko has taken an active role in seeing things through to their completion. Still, Shoko is wracked by guilt over Shoya’s injury, and she finally collapses in anguished tears just as Shoya wakes up in the hospital. The story of these two teenagers finally reaching an understanding comes to a resolution as Shoya stumbles out of the hospital towards the bridge where Shoko is crying.
How Was It?
The previous volume of A Silent Voice brought all of this riveting series’ emotional strands to a unflinchingly raw climax in a way that built upon the groundwork laid throughout this series. The theme of that volume might be characterized as “confrontation”; we saw the various running confrontations between characters such as Shoko and Naoka come to a fore, but more importantly we finally got to see Shoko crying out as she confronted her own guilt in an exceptionally illustrated wordless chapter. Appropriately, this volume is all about providing resolution to these various conflicts, and succeeds precisely because of the way that it builds off of the previous volume in a way that addresses the series long-running themes in a satisfying and fitting manner.
The volume’s first three chapters picks up during Shoya’s awakening depicted in the final pages of the previous volume, and these chapters depict the true emotional climax of this series in an incredibly moving manner. A Silent Voice has demonstrated a wonderful flair for the dramatic in the past two volumes, and this continues to be true here as Shoya stumbles into Shoko on the bridge where they spent lots of time together before the two finally confront one another for the first time since Shoya’s fall. What follows is absolutely wonderful because we finally get to see the two have their first real conversation with everything laid out on the table.
Shoko and Shoya’s meeting on the bridge becomes such a special moment because of the way that it demonstrates the way that these two have grown over the course of the series, and it is really awesome to see them engage in the type of conversation that these two would never have been emotionally comfortable having but for their journey together. One thing that made this scene particularly engaging to me was the way that parts of the conversation are hidden from the reader, creating a sense of distinct personal connection between Shoya and Shoko as they communicate that feels hidden and personal. I liked that parts of their conversation are left for the readers to self-explicate, and this worked really well because the emotions in play are never in doubt thanks to author Yoshitoki Oima’s deft artistic effort which makes excellent use of these characters’ body language and facial expressions to fill in the gaps between their words. The entire scene felt incredibly nuanced in a way that fits with the way that emotions have been portrayed in this series so far - there are no platitudes or meaningless explication, but instead a wonderful moment where these two characters cut through the messiness everything they feel and have gone through to reach a genuine moment of true understanding. This scene successfully brought the previous six volumes of Shoko and Shoya’s development to a resolution, and I was extremely happy with the way this was handled.
While it might have been tempting to cap the series off with Shoya and Shoko’s climactic bit of understanding, the rest of the volume does a great job bringing the series’ other remaining arcs to a meaningful close. This is especially apparent in Shoko and Shoya’s respective mothers coming to an understanding during somewhat tense dinner together due to Shoko’s mother’s feelings of responsibility towards Shoya’s mother for Shoya’s injury, as well in the airing of the movie that Shoya’s friends finally finished in his absence. Both of these scenes worked well because of the way that they acknowledge the growth that these characters had because of their experiences together, and I particularly like this growth was portrayed subtly in the actions of these characters rather than simply in their words. Additionally, I really liked the way that this series made sure to give each character a sense of personal resolution in a way that felt cohesively connected to their arcs in the previous volumes. In some ways, the resolution afforded to these characters made their arcs take on a stronger meaning than their set-up had justified, and I liked the way all of these smaller bits of closure played into the group’s overall resolution meaningfully.
If this volume has one scene that feels a little bit out of place, it is a segment showing their film subsequently being shown at an actual film event to a shockingly negative and mean spirited review. This scene felt a little bit off because it felt disconnected from the emotional conclusions the characters eventually drew from it, and it wasn’t especially obvious how this fit into the casts’ broader personal development either. However, I did like that this scene provided a satisfying statement in giving Shoya the opportunity to support his friends in a way that demonstrated his changed self in a fittingly apparent way. Although this scene’s execution could have been more clear in some ways, this is an especially small complaint in the grander scheme of this volume, and I was extremely happy with the way that the arcs of these characters were brought to a close.
The chapters of this volume are devoted to bringing this series to a close by showing these characters confronting their respective futures as many of them, including Shoya and Shoko, graduate from high-school. I really liked that this arc put Shoko and Shoya’s newfound perspectives to a meaningful test, and this cemented once again their gradual process of struggling onward. We see Shoya recoil immediately at the thought of Shoko leaving for Tokyo, but what makes this scene stand out is the introspection that we see from Shoya that wonderfully demonstrates that Shoya’s growth in a way that feels true to the messiness and unevenness that this series posits is part of the experience of growing as a person. If A Silent Voice has an emotional message, it is conveyed effectively by the Shoya’s dialogue in the image above, and with this final volume I am extremely impressed with the way that this series has remained true to this message in its cohesive whole. The gang regroups two years later on coming-of-age today to cap out the series in a fulfilling scene that gives us just enough satisfying resolution while fittingly conveying the overall hope each of them has gained because of their respective journeys.
A Silent Voice Vol. 7 brings this series to a close in a volume full of catharsis that feels thematically true to the experience of growing as a person that these characters have undertaken. This volume does a deft job of showing what needs to be shown while leaving just enough out of sight in a way that allows the reader to draw their own conclusions about the resolution reached by each of these characters. This is supported by the way it shows its work by demonstrating very visibly through the actions of its characters the way that they have been changed even if it is left up to the reader to take away what they will from these changes. Additionally, the art here is fantastic and complements helps to convey the emotional beats of this story extremely effectively. A Silent Voice is unquestionably a difficult read, but this volume brings it all to a fulfilling close that lives up to the lofty expectations this emotionally potent series has garnered.
A Silent Voice Vol. 7 was translated by Stephen LeCroy and published by Kodansha Comics USA on May 31st, 2016. Authored by Yoshitoki Oima, the series began in 2013 in Kodansha’s Weekly Shonen Magazine, and concluded in late 2014 with seven volumes. An anime film is currently in production.
Date of Publication: May 31st, 2016
Translator: Stephen LeCroy
Author: Yoshitoki Oima
Publisher: Kodansha Comics USA